This is the last episode of Smackdown heading into Clash of Champions on Sunday, which is the last WWE PPV of the year. The matches announced for Smackdown, which I previewed in the daily update here, are: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens, The Usos vs. Rusev & Aiden English and WWE Champion AJ Styles goes face to face with Jinder Mahal.
Live from Cincinnati, Ohio this is Smackdown Live for episode #955. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top.
The show began with a recap from last week’s show.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown backstage wearing “YEP! YEP! YEP!” shirts hanging out flyers saying no more of Shane McMahon’s tyranny. They gave some flyers to Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable as well as other random people.
There was a shot of the live crowd and then AJ Styles’ music hit as the WWE Champion Styles made his entrance. Styles defends the WWE Championship against Jinder Mahal at Clash of Champions on Sunday.
Let’s Hear From AJ Styles
The crowd was hot for Styles as he talked about how he didn’t want to lose the WWE Championship he fought so hard to get back. Styles said what good is being champion if you’re not willing to fight for it and if you’re not a fighting champion. Styles talked about how Jinder Mahal held the WWE Title for six months and did everything to help him win. Styles reminded us about the Punjabi Prison match with help from Great Khali and the Singh Brothers are there to help Mahal too. Styles knows Mahal will do anything to get that title back.
The Singh Brothers have entrance music! Congrats to them. The Sings walked onto the stage. Sunil said sorry for the interruption. Samir said usually they introduce Jinder Mahal, but not tonight. Sunil said for those of you that missed it, look at what Jinder Mahal di to them. A clip aired of Mahal beating up The Singh Brothers on Smackdown two weeks ago after they lost to Styles. Style pointed out that was just cruel. Styles told them to come down to the ring to hug it out.
The Singh Brothers went into the ring with Styles. Samir gave Styles a hug and Sunil did too. They wanted more, but Styles said that was enough. Sunil thanked Styles for his support. Sunil said at Clash of Champions, they want to be in his corner. Sunil said as far as they are concerned, Mahal will be facing Styles alone. Samir said they are done with that and that Mahal is a disgrace. Sunil spoke about how Mahal gets to travel first class while they are in the back, Sunil said that Mahal stays in luxury hotels while they are in motels and Sunil mentioned they kissed Mahal’s feet, which smells like garlic, cheese and butter chicken. Samir tried to tell Sunil to stop. Styles said if they are angry with Jinder, then why were they with him this past weekend in India.
Images were shown from the India live event with the Singh Brothers in the ring with Mahal.
Styles asked the Singhs if they are done with Mahal. The Singhs said they are done. Styles told them to shake it out. Mahal’s music hit.
Jinder Mahal made his entrance wearing a suit looking angry. Styles told the Singhs they aren’t convincing anybody and that they sucked. Styles said at Clash of Champions, he will have a one on one match with Mahal, he hit a headbutt and Styles tossed the Singhs out of the ring. Mahal stood on the apron to talk trash to Styles as the fans chanted “Jinder Sucks” at him. One guy yelled “I love you Jinder” so that’s good. Mahal tended to the Singhs outside the ring. Styles held up the WWE Title to end the segment.
Analysis: It was a basic opening segment that didn’t accomplish that much. Pretty boring actually. The idea was the Singhs were trying to outsmart Styles, but Styles saw through it and kicked them out of the ring. Mahal not getting physically involved with Styles was a bit of a mistake because I think the feud needed more intensity. Nothing special about it.
Ruby Riott and friends were shown walking backstage because she’s in action.
PLUG TIME: I wrote a column about Sami Zayn as the best choice to win the 2018 Royal Rumble. I don’t know if it’s going to happen (“GOD DAMN PAL he’s not muscular enough” is what some people might say), but I’m here to tell you why it should happen! The article is exclusive to With Spandex on UPROXX, so please check it out.
The end of Charlotte Flair’s entrance was shown.
A video package aired about the Riott Squad wreaking havoc on Smackdown over the last three weeks.
Analysis: The original women’s match today was a six-women’s tag that was on WWE.com all day, but they changed it to Charlotte vs. Ruby.
Natalya is on commentary for this match since she faces Charlotte at Clash of Champions.
Charlotte Flair vs. Ruby Riott (w/Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)
This match is not for Charlotte’s Smackdown Women’s Title.
Charlotte took down Riott with waist lock takedowns. Natalya claimed the girls look up to her. Charlotte hit an overhead suplex, so Riott went to the floor and the show went to break.
Back from break, Charlotte sent Riott face first into the turnbuckle. Logan was on the apron, so Charlotte decked her with a forearm. Charlotte went to the floor and hit Morgan with a forearm. Natalya got up, so Charlotte hit her with a forearm. Natalya clothesline on Charlotte led to the disqualification. It went five minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: * It was barely a match. Not much for me to rate. More of an angle.
Post match, Charlotte tried to fight off the Riott Squad, but that didn’t work. The Riott Squad sent Charlotte into the steel steps at ringside and then into the barricade. They tried to attack Charlotte with the steps, but Naomi made her return with a running dropkick to take out Logan and Morgan. Naomi sent Riott into the ring with a series of forearms and the flying ass attack aka the Rear View. The Riott Squad ran away together. When The Riott Squad were on the ramp, the trio of Carmella, Lana and Tamina attacked them from behind with punches. The Riott Squad retreated. It ended there.
Analysis: That was a chaotic scene. It was like Raw in that the more veteran women on Smackdown focused their attack on the Riott Squad. I don’t think Charlotte is going to lose the title at Clash of Champions. There’s no reason to do it.
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler is next.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton talked about NXT on USA Network on Wednesday at 7pmET/6pmCT. Just Phillips that spoke, but the others were shown too.
Daniel Bryan was shown talking on the phone to Shane saying he’ll be on commentary during the main event. Zayn and Owens showed up in their “Yep! Yep! Yep!” shirts. Zayn and Owens left. Bryan ended his convo and saw the flyer to remove McMahon.
Bobby Roode is on commentary for this next match. I guess it’s guest commentary night. It’s Corbin vs. Roode vs. Ziggler for the US Title at Clash of Champions.
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is not for Corbin’s US Title.
These heel vs. heel matches are tough to do sometimes. Corbin decked Ziggler with a punch early on. Ziggler came back with a dropkick and corner splash. Corbin missed a corner charge because Ziggler moved, so Corbin hit the ring post with this shoulder. Roode left commentary, took off his robe and he had his ring gear on. Roode went into the ring and hit Ziggler with the Glorious DDT. Two minutes into the match, the ref called for the bell.
Winner by disqualification: Dolph Ziggler
Post match, Roode hit Corbin with the Glorious DDT as well. Roode posed to celebrate.
Analysis: 1/2* Nothing match designed to set up a finish that was similar to last week when Ziggler attacked Roode and Corbin during their match. Second straight match where the guest commentator caused a DQ finish. So creative. This feud is weak going into the PPV.
The Bludgeon Brothers are up next.
The commercial aired for Total Divas.
There was some clip of Breezango and The Ascension with the announcers saying that Fashion Files segments are streaming on Youtube, WWE.com, Twitter and Facebook. Fandango said they would face the Bludgeon Brothers.
It was announced that the Bludgeon Brothers are facing Breezango at Clash of Champions.
The Bludgeon Brothers made their entrance for a match.
The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) vs. Al Delaney and Joe Monroe
Rowan hit a dropkick as fans chanted “let’s go jobber” and Harper tagged in to knock the guy off the apron. Harper with a running clothesline destroyed the guy in the ring. Rowan press slammed the other guy back in the ring. Rowan and Harper picked this dude up with a double team sitout Powerbomb by Harper. Rowan tagged in and the 2B boys hit the double team lifting slam for the pinfall win after about one minute.
Winners by pinfall: The Bludgeon Brothers
During the replays, Graves was laughing because the guy that took the Powerbomb let out a shriek. That was pretty funny.
Analysis: 1/2* Dominant win like usual from the Bludgeon Brothers. Glad they are being booked strong.
Analysis x2: One of the dudes the Bludgeon Brothers beat up was former WWE/ECW guy Colin Delaney. Watch an interview with him here.
Up next we’ll hear from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
There was a Snickers “great moment in WWE history” clip. It was The Rock’s return to WWE in February 2011 with his long promo that main evented that show. They showed when Michael Cole interrupted him, so Rock talked shit to him and the crowd went wild for it.
Let’s Hear from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
My favorite duo Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn walked out in their “Yep! Yep! Yep!” shirts.
Sami Zayn said it sounds like the WWE Universe wanted to stand beside them and they stand united in the name of change. Owens said “yep” a few times as Zayn spoke. Zayn said that last week, management took things one step too far. A clip aired of Owens being handcuffed to the bottom rope. Orton beat Zayn and stood tall with Nakamura over Owens and Zayn.
Owens said you think that Stephanie McMahon and Vince McMahon were brutal, but after the last nine months, there’s no doubt that Shane McMahon is the worst McMahon of all. As Owens recapped everything, Zayn said “yep” during Owen’s pauses. Owens said that Shane is a madman on a rage bender that is trying to humiliate them because Shane couldn’t defend his family’s honor. Owens said it’s time to show this business is bigger than Shane.
Owens called people out to occupy Smackdown with them. Nobody walked down to the ring until Smackdown’s General Manager Daniel Bryan stood on the ramp. Graves wondered if Bryan was joining the “Yep Movement.” Bryan made his full entrance to his music.
Owens called Bryan the inspiration for the “Yep Movement.” Zayn said they thought hundreds or thousands would be out there, but it doesn’t matter because they got Daniel Bryan. That led to Bryan asking them what they were doing. Owens talked about how Bryan had the Yes Movement, so they have the Yep Movement as a tribute to him. Owens told Bryan that they are like him with how they have been treated. Bryan told them that they are nothing like him. Bryan said if anything, this proves it. Bryan said the Yes Movement wasn’t about him, it was about them…the fans. That led to “yes” chants.
Zayn said this is about what they want and what they deserve. Owens said Shane McMahon made himself guest referee at Clash of Champions because he wants to screw them. Zayn called Shane a “ruthless pirate” that wants to take food off their table. Bryan said that Shane has his back and Bryan has his. Bryan realizes that they are incredibly talented, so Bryan will make sure that their match is fair. Bryan told them if they lose at Clash of Champions there will be no excuses. Bryan said that he trusts Shane will have his back like Bryan has always had his.
Bryan said this Sunday at Clash of Champions, there will be a second guest referee in the Owens/Zayn vs. Orton/Nakamura tag match and that man is Daniel Bryan. Crowd liked that. Bryan left while Owens and Zayn joined the crowd in “yes” chants.
Analysis: Solid promo segment built around the announcement that Bryan will be another referee in the tag match. I have said for weeks now that I think Bryan or Shane is turning heel because I think Owens/Zayn have to win to avoid being fired, so they will get some surprising help. I think it’s going to be Shane that turns because it’s tough for the fans to boo Bryan, but in WWE anybody can get booed. Anyway, it won’t be a clean finish, so I’m intrigued by how it is booked.
The Usos vs. Rusev/English is next.
Happy Rusev Day because the duo of Aiden English and Rusev were in the ring.
The New Day trio were on commentary for this match. They had food with them.
English had the spotlight on him in the ring. English said because today and every day is Rusev Day, he’s going to finish the holiday song that they started last week. English sang down from eight ("The Eight Days of Christmas") to one with the last one bragging about beating The New Day.
The Usos, Smackdown’s Tag Team Champions, made their entrance. New Day did a funny dance. The Usos mocked English and Rusev saying maybe Santa can get them a toupee (English is balding) or a tan.
Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable joined the fun. Gable said that days are for the weak. They had a did a cocky heel promo. Benjamin said his name in the funny way that the Usos usually say it. The match is up next.
Analysis: Some of that Benjamin and Gable promo was awkward. I didn’t recap it all, but the dialogue was just weird.
They started during the break.
Rusev & Aiden English vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
Rusev had a bearhug on Jey, who broke free and brought in Jimmy. Samoan Drop from Jimmy on English. When Jimmy charged in, English kicked him. English tried an attack off the ropes, but was met by a Jimmy superkick. Rusev broke up the pin. Rusev was kicked into the barricade. Rusev nailed a kick to Jimmy and English hit a sitout DDT for the pinfall win. It went about two minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Rusev & Aiden English
Analysis: * That was incredibly rushed. Good for the time given. In my preview for the show I wrote: “This is not for the Usos Smackdown Tag Team Titles, so it wouldn’t shock me if Rusev and English win one week after beating New Day. It’s all about giving credibility to Rusev and English as a team.” Nailed it.
A recap aired of Styles’ segment earlier with Mahal and the Singhs.
Styles was interviewed by Renee Young backstage in the interview area. Jinder Mahal attacked Styles with a punch. Mahal told Styles that this Sunday, he will not be beating the odds.
Analysis: Cheap heel attack to give Mahal the advantage. I mentioned earlier I thought they should have dome some kind of brawl earlier, so at least they did this even if it was for less than a minute.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens up next.
Mojo Rawley vs. Zack Ryder was added to the Kickoff Show of Clash of Champions.
The announcers went over the Clash of Champions lineup as graphics were shown on the screen. I’ve got the full lineup at the bottom of this review.
Randy Orton made his entrance to support his Clash of Champions tag team partner Shinsuke Nakamura.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. He got a loud ovation from the crowd.
Orton and Nakamura were interviewed in the ring by Renee Young. Orton paused because the crowd chanted “Nakamura” for Shinsuke. Orton said he doesn’t like Owens or Zayn because they’re obnoxious and self-entitled. Orton said he and his partner will make sure those two idiots lose their job. Renee asked if Nakamura agreed with Orton, he said: “Yep.”
Analysis: Great Nakamura promo. I'm kidding. I wish some of the wordy promos that sound awkward were that short too.
This week on 205 Live is Cedric Alexander vs. Ariya Daivari.
Daniel Bryan joined the announce team for this match. Fourth match with guest commentary.
The duo of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn made their entrance. They were booed.
Kevin Owens (w/Sami Zayn) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Randy Orton)
It started at 9:43pmET. Owens grounded Nakamura with a headlock. Bryan said that he’s sure that Shane McMahon will be a good referee, but Bryan can relate to Zayn and Owens because of their long journey to get to WWE. Nakamura hit a kick to Owens, he sent Owens to the ropes, Owens held on and went to the floor. Nakamura left the ring, so Owens shoved him back first into the apron a few times. Owens slapped on a chinlock in the ring. Owens worked over Nakamura with a forearm to the head. Nakamura sent Owens into the corner and hit a knee to the ribs. Nakamura missed a knee in the corner when Owens moved and Owens whipped Nakamura into the barricade. Commercial time.
Back from break, Owens got a boot up to block a charge from Nakamura followed by a clothesline that got Owens a two count. Owens with a hard kick to the chest of Nakamura and when Owens went for a splash, Nakamura got his knees up. Nakamura exchanged blows with Owens and Nakamura came back with a jumping kick to the head as the crowd went wild for it. Forearm by Nakamura followed by a front suplex. Nakamura worked over Owens with kicks to the chest and a leaping kick to the head. Nakamura with a running knee to the gut, more knees to the gut and a foot to the throat by Nakamura against the turnbuckle. Running knee lift by Nakamura got a two count. The announcers were bickering with Saxton talking about how Bryan inserting himself into the match as referee was against what Shane would want. Owens knocked Nakamura off the top and Owens went for a senton splash, but Nakamura got his knees up. Owens went for a punch, Nakamura moved and the referee Chad Patton got taken out. Bryan took the ref shirt off the ref and put it on. The ref had a black shirt under it. Nakamura got a kick on Owens and Bryan counted the two count. Zayn argued with Bryan, so Orton hit Zayn with a clothesline. They went to the floor and Zayn shoved Orton into the ring post. Zayn on the apron, so Nakamura punched him down. Owens sent Nakamura into the ropes and Owens hit the Popup Powerbomb on Nakamura. Owens covered Nakamura for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
Analysis: **3/4 The match was solid as usual from them. A little boring in the early going, but they picked it up and had some cool spots later on. I think the story was really well done with Bryan subbing in as the ref, the involvement of Randy and Sami followed by Owens capitalizing on the situation by hitting the Popup Powerbomb on Nakamura to win. It’s not really a clean win for Owens since Nakamura had to deal with Zayn on the apron as well.
Replays aired. The announcers bickered again with Saxton saying that he thinks Bryan is going to screw Nakamura and Orton. Saxton said there’s something fishy there.
Owens and Zayn were interviewed on the ramp by Renee Young. Owens said that nobody, not Nakamura, Orton or Shane McMahon will take this away from them because they’re the best not just on Smackdown, but in the entire WWE. Owens kissed Zayn on the cheek. Owens did the “YEP” chanting as Zayn showed the shirt. Owens’ music played.
Analysis: The commentary during that whole thing was interesting because Saxton was really pushing the idea that Bryan was going to help Zayn and Owens win at Clash of Champions. That likely means that Shane McMahon is the one turning heel to help Zayn and Owens win to have them keep their jobs. It may not make a lot of sense based on the history, but that’s pro wrestling booking. It's also possible Orton turns on Nakamura and Bryan or Shane has to count it since Orton has been known to do that sort of thing.
I’m picking Owens and Zayn to win at Clash of Champions. It’s just a matter of how that happens.
Three Stars of the Show
- Kevin Owens
- Shinsuke Nakamura
- Daniel Bryan
4.5 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2017 Average: 6.63
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.57 - Raw is at 5.88
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 6, 5.5, 7.5, 6.5
2017 High: 8.5 (April 11, August 1)
2017 Low: 4 (August 29)
It gets a 4.5 out of 10.
Below average show. There was a lot of repetitiveness with people on commentary for four matches and two of the matches had the exact same finish with the person on commentary causing a disqualification. Was the creative team asleep during this show? I don’t know, but it felt like it.
I would have given it about a 3 out of 10, but the main event was an effective angle that made me more interested in Clash of Champions.
The next Smackdown PPV is Clash of Champions is December 17. Here’s the lineup.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura (Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan are both referees)
Fatal 4-Way Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. The New Day vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin vs. Rusev & Aiden English
Smackdown Women’s Championship Lumberjack Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya
United States Championship: Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) vs. Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)
Mojo Rawley vs. Zack Ryder (Kickoff Show)
We will have a TJRWrestling preview of Clash of Champions on Friday.
That’s all for now. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.
My contact info is below. Thanks for reading.